There aren’t many tech-house DJs who can count RuPaul among their fans, but when Alisha Coleman posted a video of her playing Pirupa’s ‘Now Walk’ – a tech-house track that samples the Drag Race icon’s unmistakable ‘Put The Bass In Your Walk’ – their worlds collided. Since retweeting the ‘Cover Girl’-captioned clip in January, it’s been viewed 246,000 times.
“I quoted his words but didn’t tag him or anything,” the Peterborough-born 24-year-old tells Mixmag. “By the time I’d got out the shower, my phone notifications were blowing up; I’d had four hundred retweets and was going nuts because his following is huge. It was great exposure, but I didn’t expect it to come that way,” she says. The out-of-the-blue co-sign was just one crazy memory from an unforgettable year.
Since leaving her job as a shift supervisor at UK family restaurant chain Harvester this summer, Alisha hasn’t looked back. Clocking up shows at Parklife, Glastonbury and Fabric while focusing her attention on producing music, she says: “It’s the best thing I could have done, but I never imagined I’d be able to leave my job for music.”
Alisha has always had a passion for clubbing. “I remember looking up at the DJ booth and thinking how amazing it was that someone could control a dancefloor,” she says. Although she’s been into music since she was a teenager – “I had an EDM phase, but I’m an r’n’b and hip hop girl at heart” – Alisha only started DJing in 2014. “I woke up one morning and took the plunge, bought a controller for £30 and taught myself in my bedroom – that was literally it.” She spent the next year mastering mixing techniques.
Since then, she’s gone from playing Peterborough's long-standing and impressive house night Mixology (“Peterborough’s not got the biggest scene, but they’ve supported me from day one, giving me my first gigs”) to playing alongside her idols like Hot Since 82, Green Velvet and Steve Lawler.
While she’s released infectious tech-house groovers on Relief Records and Kaluki, and has a two-track EP, ‘Existence’, coming on Danny Howard’s Nothing Else Matters label, producing came second for her. “It didn’t appeal to me when I first started, but when I was DJing I realised how rewarding it is to hear tunes out that you’ve made yourself,” she says. “When I first started, I didn’t think I could do it – but now I produce music every day.”
Despite coming up with an initial five-year plan when she was starting out, the milestones she’s already ticked off her bucket list have been totally unexpected. “You never think these things are actually going to happen. When I was practicing in my bedroom, I never thought I’d be playing to hundreds of people... let alone thousands.” As for next year, she says, “I want to get to the bigger festival stages so I can show everyone what I’m about!”
Ben Jolley is a freelance journalist, follow him on Twitter
Read this next: Get the best of Mixmag direct to your Facebook DMs